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Placer Sentinel

Giving Machine: the Spirit of Christmas

Nov 30, 2022 12:00AM ● By By Margaret Snider

The Tuesday volunteer shift lines up next to Light the World Giving Machine on the first day of operation at Westfield Galleria Mall in Roseville. Volunteers pictured from left are Lynette McDowell, Ron McDowell, Debbie Timpson, Kelly Timpson, Lin Schultz, Mark Hoffman, Denise Hoffman, Judy Stoeltzing and Dick Stoeltzing. Photo by Margaret Snider

Giving Machine: the Spirit of Christmas [3 Images] Click Any Image To Expand

ROSEVILLE, CA (MPG) - The Giving Machines, which are vending machines that disperse donations instead of snacks, have come to Westfield Galleria Mall in Roseville, the only place in California to have them.

Santa Claus was one of the first to donate, aided by Denise Hoffman, supervisor of the Tuesday volunteers.

“The Giving Machine is the same spirit of Christmas that Santa has,” Santa said. “We give and not receive. That’s what Christmas is all about. Always give and think of the love we share. Merry Christmas!”

Hoffman didn’t say what Santa’s choice was, but she said that her family’s favorite donation is chickens.

“We’ve already bought some chickens, but I think (my husband) wants to buy a family toilet,” she said. “You can get a family toilet for $60.”

Minimum purchase begins at $10 and goes to a maximum of $1,500. Volunteers are there every day to help patrons operate the vending machines. 

Sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Giving Machines originated in 2017 and this year are in place during the holidays in 22 locations in the United States, and 6 international locations. At the Galleria, the machines offer donations to four local and three international nonprofit organizations. They will be in place from November 22 through January 2. 

How does it work?

Choose a machine: Each machine offers a selection of items on behalf of global and local organizations that help those suffering from hardship and privation.

Make your selection: You may add several items you’d like to donate using the touch screen “shopping cart,” up to a total of $1,500.

Swipe your card: Giving Machines accept credit cards and mobile payments (Apple Pay, Google Pay, etc.).

Collect your receipt: A card will drop down showing what you have donated. 

“One of the things I’ve learned is we’re buying chickens for a family in an underdeveloped country that will provide both food for them and income from selling eggs to others in the village,” said Hoffman. “The charities must use that money donated for buying chickens, they can’t use it for anything else. The organizers have oversights in place to assure that what is donated is what is given.”

Anyone can donate, and often entire families come and let the children help choose what the family donates. Nancy Pinney of Granite Bay came with her grandchildren Luke, Jake, Chase and Kai.

“They were very excited about it,” Pinney said. “They each picked something that they wanted to purchase… I think that the Giving Machine is just an inspired program. So many people are looking for ways to help other people. They don’t know how to. They don’t know where to turn, they don’t know who to ask. And this Giving Machine is so easy to use and it’s so available, it’s right there in the middle of the mall, and it gives you such a selection of things to choose from. I think it’s just an amazing, amazing program.”

While international donations may provide more exotic purchases, like chickens or outhouses, compared to donations for local charities, contributions to local concerns are needed to provide help to the people who live right around you. The local groups that are represented in this year’s Sacramento area machines are the Placer Food Bank, HART, Al-Misbaah and Catholic Charity: Diocese of Sacramento.

Placer Food Bank covers Placer, El Dorado and Nevada Counties, an area of about 4,700 square miles. During the last fiscal year, the food bank distributed about 8.2 million pounds of food in the three counties.

“When we started learning about the concept of the Giving Machines, we thought it was really, really quite brilliant quite an interesting way to allow the community to come together in a gathering place and make a donation,” said Lisa Heinrich, director of development and communications for Placer Food Bank. “What better way to continue our mission, to help feed people.”

In the meantime, it’s good to remember the real meaning of the Giving Machine.

“While we make a trip to the mall and choose what we’d like to donate,” said Bruce Anderson, the director of the local effort, “we can’t forget that while we have fun and go back to a warm home and a good meal, there are others out there doing without the very basics of life – clean water, a bed to sleep in, enough food to keep them alive. What’s important is that we do what we can.”

The Giving Machines can be found at the Westfield Galleria Mall, located at 1151 Galleria Blvd., Roseville, CA, in front of Penny’s and Santa’s greeting place. The galleria hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday.

If you aren’t able to go to the Giving Machines, you can also donate online by going to To learn about the local Giving Machines, go to 

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